Where to volunteer this Christmas

"Gift" by asenat29 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

2020 has been a whirlwind, to say the least. But amongst all the chaos Brits came together to give back to their communities.

According to Charities Aid Foundation, the public donated a total of £5.4 billion to charity between January and June – an increase of £800 million compared to the same period in 2019. Throughout the year the nation has embodied the spirit of goodwill, so why not put the magic back into someone’s Christmas over the festive season?  

Many charities are in need of some extra help following the impact of the pandemic. As always, they will be relying on a legion of volunteers to help the homeless, or host someone who is facing Christmas alone. 

If you’re pressed for time, volunteering isn’t your only option at Christmas. You can send a gift that will help others, or petition for those whose human rights are being violated. 

Here are 5 ways you can make a difference this Christmas. 

Operation Christmas Child 

Most of us will remember this programme from school, where you filled a shoe box with gifts, and they were sent across the world. Well getting your shoebox into the hands of a child is still possible. 

It is still as simple as it was in school. Find a medium-sized shoe box, wrap the box and lid in wrapping paper and fill it with gifts. 

Drop-off is between December 5 – 14 for England, and will cost £5 per box to cover costs, including shipping. 

Alternatively, you can build a shoe box online filled with a variety of gifts that will bring joy to a child’s life. 

Crisis at Christmas

Crisis at Christmas has been providing thousands of homeless people with hot meals, a safe place to sleep, companionship, and the support and advice they need, since 1967. For Covid related reasons, volunteering will be done differently this year. 

“Social distancing means we’ll be doing things differently, but we’ll be looking after as many people as we possibly can,” says the charity. 

“And the spirit of a Crisis Christmas will be exactly the same. We will treat people with care and respect – giving them that warm Crisis welcome, so they get their dignity back and feel ready to take on life again.” 

In some areas, volunteer support will be limited to very experienced helpers who have been involved with the project for many years. However, others are still looking for volunteers. Find out what help is needed and where on their website

There’s also sponsored volunteering, where volunteers can support Crisis by getting their friends, family, or company to sponsor you.

Any money raised will go towards helping guests with a safe place to stay, offer company, support, essential food, and festive treats. 

Refuge Parcel

Refuge provides shelter for women and children escaping domestic violence. A Panorama investigation found that Domestic abuse surged during lockdown, making Refuge’s work even more meaningful. 

In many situations of domestic abuse, women will often leave with just the clothes they have on their back. For £10, you can provide a family with an emergency parcel containing toiletries, food, nappies, children’s clothing, and a change of clothes for mum. 

Community Christmas

Before the Covid outbreak, the UK was facing a loneliness epidemic amongst older people, but the impact of the pandemic means that this could be the loneliest Christmas for over 65’s. 

This year more than 850,000 older people could be spending Christmas alone, this is where Community Christmas comes in.

Community Christmas in an initiative set up by the charity Re-engage. It provides a free online directory of local festive ‘acts of kindness’.  

On their web page, Re-engage include suggestions for Covid-safe activities to help bring local communities closer together. 

Obviously, this year the spirit of giving will have to be done at a safe distance, considering the latest Government guidelines. 

Re-engage suggests some simple ways to bring people together like a socially distanced walk, phone call to lonely neighbours on Christmas day or carol singing for the community. 

Write for Rights

This December why not write a letter and change a life. Amnesty International supporters across the globe will write millions of letters on behalf of people whose basic human rights are being attacked. 

Write for Rights carries the idea that “when we all act together, we are more powerful.” And that reigns true, together millions of individuals rally together to free people from injustice. 

And it’s not just letters that make a difference. It could be petitions or organised events, every action counts.

Get the Write for Rights kit here to lend your pen and right some of the world’s wrongs. 

Words: Leah Nelson | Subbing: Omega Kamombo

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